Political Prisoners

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Walking Around With A Camera

I almost never leave my neighborhood, as you know. Here's what it looked like today.

family on the beach

Scarecrow On Greenview

love this in-progress mural on North Shore

Birches mural on Touhy

Three dogs on a porch

Monday, September 19, 2016

Your Ticket To A Fake Board Meeting

Unlike in a normal city with a normal, elected school board, you don't really get access to the actual governing board of a charter school in Chicago, Illinois.

Particularly in the Gulen-linked schools. Illinois law is just vague enough for the holders of these charters to assemble any group of people they want to serve as the "board," even if those people are just assembled for the purpose of complying with the loose law.

Here is the only document I'm aware of that has a schedule of meetings for something that is possibly supposed to be the "board" of these schools.

Looks like we missed the August meeting, but there's one coming up next month at the Gulen campus on Pershing Road. So, who's going? October 15, December 3, February 11,  April 1, and June 10.

Note that the meetings take place at a variety of the Concept schools--- and these are the schools where the charter is held by Concept itself.  This is different than the case of Chicago Math and Science Academy, where the charter is held by the board of CMSA, which is a different group of people.

Anyway, of the above schools, two were created by the state charter school commission (McKinley Park and Belmont [which has now moved to Mango Street]) and are basically unsupervised units of government governed entirely by Concept Schools.

The insiders of Concept schools are in closest circles to Gulen and the upper echelons of the Gulen Movement.

So there you have it. I'm not really sure who is on this board or whether that is subject to change but it doesn't really matter; it's not really a board. The only actual board that exists is the one reported to the IRS. Here's the list from the 2015 990.

Mind you, in the Gulen-linked universe, there are different levels... there appears to be a highly organized hierarchy. Of the people on the IRS-reported board above, there are insiders and there are outsiders.

It's pretty much an ersatz board.

If you sniff around over at the HSA-Belmont website, you can find the "minutes" from the "board" that does meet; they're pretty spare but they do exist. Actually they're kind of funny. Here's a screenshot:

You can see that there are three people on this "board" who are also on the Concept IRS-reported "board": Gladden, Zora, and Surucu. It isn't clear to me from the little checkmarks who was there or not there, or who is a "board member" and who is a visitor, but I do love the "we have a quoroum" remark.

A quorum of a board that has no legal standing in Illinois or anywhere else.

It's all so dumb. But this is how they roll; it's a show that almost looks real, and it's just enough to keep the Dorito-munching public in a coma. Look at Section II. Public comments are reserved for agenda items only? Really. A little authoritarian, no?

It isn't much but it's all we've got. We need to get some people going to these fake meetings and asking folks to identify themselves and to answer questions.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A Little Bit Of Edgewater

Writer's block here, plus a round of the flu.

I got out of the house today and ambled around Edgewater.

Most of my readers are in Turkey, so if you've never been to Chicago, this is what things look like in Edgewater, Chicago.

This is the less-photographed angle of St. Gertrude's church. I'm sure I've posted the more popular shot a hundred times on this blog. This church is connected to the popular Northside Catholic Academy.

Just down Granville is this adorable rustic-looking Presbyterian congregation; I forget what it's called. I go through this sequence of thoughts literally every time I pass this church. 1) cute church! 2) Hm, Presbyterian. Isn't that John Calvin? 2)  Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God was a nightmare!  2) Wait, that was Jonathan Edwards.

This is the hideous apartment building they put in at Granville and Broadway. I went in one of the apartments just after it opened, and it all reminded me of Soviet times. Note the mattress shop on the ground level. America is full of mattress shops and phone stores.

This is the famous Sovereign Hotel, on Granville. It's not a hotel any more, but that's how I think of it. It has quite a storied past; look it up some time. Who here among us does not have a Sovereign Hotel story? There's a health club inside this building, with a formerly magnificent swimming pool. One of the naked groups used to swim there, as I recall. There's a great deal I don't recall any more, thank god.

Here's another angle. It's really a massive building.

This is the view southeast of the Sovereign. Those buildings are right on Lake Michigan.

This is what I call "the ugly building" at Granville and Sheridan Road, with the Sheridan Beach building across the street. The ugly building has all of these cramped two-floor condos inside; the upper floor is a bedroom. It looks like a heating/cooling disaster me, but people love living there.

Here's another angle of Sheridan Road, facing south. This is a really loud strip of Sheridan Road; I don't know how anyone can have windows open in the apartments that face the road.

Here's the Mundelein College building of Loyola University. This little curve on Sheridan Road is where Edgewater turns into Rogers Park.

The much-photographed Madonna della Strada Chapel on the Loyola Campus.

And finally, a sunset shot of the Loyola Station. I always wonder where people are going when I see them up there. This station is the setting for the incident that recounted in this recent pop sensation video. 

That's all I got. 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Memory Lane In Gulen-Land

The great Paul Green has died, way too young.

I did not know him but by all accounts he was a Chicago original and beloved by all. I first became aware of him during my political research into the Gulen Movement here in Chicago.

The Gulenists gave one of their awards to the City Club, and Mr. Green accepted it on the club's behalf. If you do an hour's research into the Gulen Movement's behavior around the globe, you will find that one consistent theme is that they develop flattery and favor-based relationships with the local elites everywhere they go.

I guess in their minds, Mr. Green represented that. He surely did; he was a local giant and a gracious host and a bright light in our city. I never wrote to him, as I have written to other recipients of Gulen Movement awards and overtures; I probably should have. Once it became clearer what was going on with the Niagara Foundation here in Chicago, the local luminaries stopped going to the award ceremonies

By the time they got down the list to Andi Zopp, it was pretty much just Zopp and Nekritz left at the VIP table.

Here's the footage from the year the City Club got its "award."  I've written about this evening more than I care to remember. If you haven't been reading this research over the years, yes, that is indeed a supreme court justice being manipulated by these guys.

Niagara Foundation Peace Awards 2013 Honorees from Niagara Foundation on Vimeo.

Here's a video I keep forgetting about; it's Niagara's parade of award winners over the years. They do this in every part of the country (and world) where they have a presence: they focus on the luminaries-- using awards, trips, speaking invitations,  positions on "advisory boards," and other gifts to build relationships with the local influential people, paying special attention focused on elements of the judiciary and law enforcement. It was all part and parcel of the Gulen Movement's taking-over of the narrative about Turkey, a phenomenon that worked well for Gulen and for the Turkish president for a very long time. Until late in 2013, in fact.

I intend no criticism of any of these award recipients; it was very difficult until recently to see through the fog, and the Gulenists have been very successful with this strategy all over the world.
It would be very easy to accept an award that had previously been accepted by so many others, particularly after you've accepted other gifts and overtures from the very same people.

I remind you of Gulen 101.

Considering that favors received make you feel a liking, affection, and attachment for those who bestowed the favor upon you, you should understand how to make others like you, and feel affection and attachment for you. It is said that “people are the slaves of the favors done to them.” Therefore, doing others a favor and being good to them is a reliable defense against any harm that may come from them.
                              ----M. Fethullah Gulen, The Pearls Of Wisdom

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Workin' For The Man

It never fails: in the short week after Labor Day, I always work straight through on Saturday to catch up on the stuff that didn't get done during the week.

Anyway, this is totally off topic for me; I just noticed it on a random search of PopUrls. It's about an animal rights group (legally) surveilling a stank-ass feedlot somewhere in California. It's totally consistent with the history of policing in the US.

I wish they had titled this video something else because it's not about cops losing it; it's about cops maintaining their cool while trying to enforce some prick's sense of owning everything, including the rights of people standing on public property.

These militarized cops. Working for the big boss. 'Twas ever thus, as they say.

Hats off to the good ones.

People are out there doing such interesting work; I'd like to join them but I'm stuck on the treadmill, apparently. Note to young people: all that crap you accumulate in life is expensive to maintain when you're older. Just learn to live without it.

And eat less meat.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Hey Chicago, Will You Do This One Thing?

Hey, will you do this one thing?

Babur Balos is seriously ill; there's a GoFundMe for him, and I'm hoping you'll pitch in if you haven't already.

It's America; when you're facing a fatal illness and flat on your back, your family is financially ruined almost immediately.

Please do what you can. There are very few people in Chicago who are in the street for human rights as much as Babur is. If you've been an activists for schools, for youth, for social justice anywhere in this city, there is a good chance that Babur has had your back.
Babur Balos (on the right)

Friday, September 2, 2016

A Charter Grows In Elgin

I'm seeing some traffic about this re-heated charter proposal out in Elgin. Apparently they're more determined than ever to divert tax revenue away from the school district to prop up their unremarkable proposal in the name of "choice." Which, in the context of public education, is when parents make a choice to defund other kids' education by creating overcapacity based on marketing themes.

This group is evidently the same core group of people who were rejected by the U46 board in a 6-1 vote,  who then (in a giant fuck-you to U46),  took it to the state charter school commission--- the unelected Star Chamber of Illinois public education financing-- the same group that has given us two Gulen schools and a school that survived-by-technicalities being shut down by a judge.

Even the state charter school commission rejected this proposal last time, surprisingly. Remember what one of their "concerns" was? I do.
Nowaczewski acknowledged the community support for the charter school proposal but added the charter school board "lacks collective substance and experience to manage, govern and deliver."
I'm sure they've gotten tons of experience in the short time between that proposal and this new proposal.

A friend pointed out that the charter proposal is using this really dumb logo for their idea.. I'm not sure if they had this logo last time.
Apparently they're marketing to the still-panicked-by-Sputnik crowd.

We were wondering if this charter had a connection to the Gulenists, with a logo like that, but there is no connection. I recall wondering the same thing in 2014.

When I started this post, it was going to be about the dumbness of school names in the age of reform. All of these math and science academies and school(s) of excellence. It's all so jacked-up. You know you're in a doomed neighborhood when a school of excellence sign get plunked down in front of your school. You know you've been marginalized when they pin math and science academy to whatever it was that your school used to be called.

This strange charter's strange slogan: Math + Science = The Future--- I hate to say it, but it's a silly, provincial idea of what will constitute the future. It's a hobo's idea, as Garrison Keillor would say, of the basis for an education. It's all so from-the-fifties and cartoonish; I would have so more respect for these people if they had just gone with Plastics! instead.

I'll admit I'm wrong about these things when they change the sign out in Winnetka to New Trier Math and Science Academy.

I'll write about school names some other time. For this post, I just wanted to remind everyone of some of the zaniness I tried to capture from the last attempt this group made, including the dumb script they gave clueless people for an email campaign.

But also--- there was this scene in February of 2014, out at a forum in Batavia, where (charter supporter) Senator Mike Noland sat in the back with one of the charter people during this lucid presentation by Chris Lubienski.

When it was Noland's turn to speak, he delivered this classic ode-to-wishywashiness, working in the name of someone he had just heard of in Lubienski's presentation (sort of):

It's a scientific fact that we have different levels of intelligence perhaps.

I'm sure he's a nice guy but he seemed to me to be saying things that were just whispered in his ear a few minutes ago. His little argument is actually an argument for comprehensive public education, not the thinning-out of resources for everyone so that a few aggressive people can get a school for their kids.

So, that's the situation out in Elgin. A determined little group wants a charter school and goddam it they're gonna get one. Because that's what the law allows.

It's insane.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Proposal Without A Plan In Rogers Park

If I have any steam left over after work tonight, I'll write about last night's meeting at Sullivan, which was a disappointment, to say the least.

It was a supporter's forum for a proposal-without-a-plan to move the selective-enrollment Decatur Classical into the Eugene Field school. Field has been a 4-8 grade school, but the 4th grade has been grabbed by New Field, which is the elementary school down the street. There's a lot of jockeying-for-position in city schools, and this is just one of those situations. The next step in the dismantling of Eugene Field is to hand it over to this selective enrollment school, Decatur Classical, which needs a facility badly.

Eugene Field School has started to look like the baby bison that's gotten away from the heard; the other schools are moving in for the kill.

I walked into the meeting without a pre-set opinion, but I was suspicious just because of history. I was hoping for a discussion that would acknowledge the fact that at the end of the day, the neighborhood would have one fewer neighborhood school, and that it's always the neighborhood kids who get shunted off when the charter people, or in this case the selective enrollment people, want their school.

Sullivan's auditorium filling up.
We need a plan for those kids, not just a proposal to seat them at Kilmer. There are no actual specifics about those kids, and no plans for their teachers, who are all going to lose their jobs. The teachers are not going to be picked up by Kilmer; they were very careful not to make any commitment of this sort. Just you wait and see.

The only thing I heard about Kilmer's plan is that they want to bring in an IB program. Totally a nonsequitor in terms of a plan for absorbing neighborhood middle school kids.

The Kilmer teachers were in the back. I'm not sure if any of them made a peep beyond cheering; there was a gentleman in the back to raised the topic, but he was impossible to hear. I don't know if he was a parent or a teacher or resident.

The worst aspect of the meeting was Joe's decision to control the public comments by inventing a rule system that only parents of this school or that school could talk, so naturally the Decatur parents filibustered until it started to get late and people were leaving.

In my mind they made a really poor decision there; someone should have told Joe to engage with the people who had objections, rather than continue an already-long love-fest for the takeover. If the Decatur parents were trying to make a good first impression, they failed. They were bulldozers. They want this particular building, and they're going to get it.

I walked out sometime after 8:30PM, and yes, I did call Joe Moore out publicly. I'm sorry, but he's
Alderman Joe Moore, arbiter of who gets to speak.
just a dishonest person, running a meeting like that. Completely in keeping with past behavior. I fully get why the other elected people stayed away: if I were in public office, I wouldn't want to be part of a meeting where the alderman was running a microphone strategy designed to keep the people with objections waiting and waiting.

I've got some news for people. Decatur does not belong to the current set of Decatur parents; Kilmer doesn't belong to the current set of Kilmer parents. All of these schools belong to all of us, and to the people who come after us. We need a process where we're talking about facilities based on a plan, presented by people elected to a school board. This vague system where the alderman pick and choose what projects are going to happen-- it's ridiculous. It couldn't possibly be any more political.

I have no idea what happened after I left. On the way out, someone who looks familiar told me that "every meeting has rules." I agree. And this meeting had an arbitrary rule designed to run out the clock. And I broke the rule.

And what are you? A nine year-old?

I have a lot of respect for the people working in the local schools, but unfortunately they let themselves get sucked into a dishonestly run meeting rather than an actual forum. You can't just let the alderman point to a graph about the declining enrollment at a neighborhood school without addressing the causes of that declining enrollment, which actually do have a lot to do with the alderman.

More later.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Rogers Park Sunday

I gotta get out more with the camera.

From the alley north of Devon, looking east toward Loyola and the Mundelein College building.

From the alley east of Sheridan at Farwell, looking south. I have spent more of my life walking the alleys of this neighborhood than I care to admit.

St. Ignatius of Loyola carillon tower. I've taken this shot at least a hundred times. It's always interesting to me. You have to remember I spent ten years living in Phoenix, and even though I've been back here for a long time, my eyes are still adjusting to actual architecture.

Sparrow on a limb on Lakewood. I just wanted to post this somewhere so I can refer to it in March when winter seems like it will never go away.

Pokemon hunters at the beach. This Pokemon game brings out people from every walk of life. There are people who look like they haven't been out of the house in ten years out walking around on the beach right now, looking for these damn Pokemons, or whatever they are. I have no idea.

These two stopped in front of me and had a conversation in English where I couldn't understand a single word they were saying. Apparently the young one was aware of something that was north, and the old one was confirming a deeply held belief about something else.